Thursday, November 15, 2012

It's All Meaningless

"Ekklesia" is the Greek word used in the New Testament of the Christian Scriptures that we translate into English as "Church."

At the point I've lost 90% of the audience because I dared to use a Greek word, much less attempt to delve into its meaning, history, etymology, etc.

And this bothers me.  It should bother you, too.

You cannot uncover the truth in sound-bytes.  Especially highly edited, twisted-to-fit-whatever-the-editor-wants-them-to-mean, 10-second-or-less, sound-bytes.

Today I would like to make a post about the significance of the meaning of the word "Ekklesia" and the nature of "the Church."  I'd like to explore the roots of the words, the Old and New Testament uses, the development of "ekklesia" and "church" in the Christian history, and more.  I'd like to connect this with the book of Ecclesiastes and it's message and meaning (or lack thereof depending on how you look at it), the title of which shares the same root as "ekklesia" and can also be translated as "the preacher."

But I am not going to.  Because no one cares.  It's all meaningless, anyway. 

Which in fact could actually be precisely the point.  If you choose to dig deep and follow through to figure it out.  Which 99.9% are surely not going to do.  It's a shame, really.  But it is the new-old reality with which we are now directly faced.

In keeping with my purposes here, this is not a personal rant (thought it *is* deeply personal for me in many ways).  Rather it is a wake up call for all who may read it.

The truth is you don't really know what I am saying, and you don't really care, either.

And this bothers me.  It should bother you, too. 


Q - Is it all meaningless?  Why or why not?  How do you preach, teach, or share the truth in a sound-byte world?  Or is it even possible to do so?  Are you bothered that people no longer care to know - and then *live* - what's true?  Are you bothered that you no longer care, either?  Finally...does this offend you?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No Offense, But...

Have you ever had someone say something to you that began with this line: "No offense, but..."

You are just about guaranteed in that situation that the person speaking to you is about to say something, well...offensive...

It's the same thing when someone follows a statement with, "nothing personal, of course."  You can be rest assured that what came previous was probably highly personal...and also, a bit offensive...

I used to have a personal blog for many years, in several different "incarnations."  I don't anymore.  And even though there are still times where things happen in life and I start thinking about how I could write about it, I put my personal blog in my personal archives for a reason.  

This web site is here for different reasons.  And although I will occasionally relate a personal story for illustrative purposes, and my goal is not to have a site that is im-personal, you won't find much here that is of a me-focused or relationally personal nature in terms of the author baring his soul or anything like that.  I am pretty good at that (probably too good), but that's not my purpose here.  

My first purpose here is to have a central resource for those who might be interested in my "services" as a pastor, teacher, speaker, and spiritual director - either because you want and need my services in one of these areas or you would like to help support my services - ministries - to others.  

My second purpose is as an author/writer/pastor/spiritual director who would like to share that which God has taught and is teaching him, with the rest of the world - be it my friends and neighbors from down the street, previous places I've lived, classmates, or people I've met only on line.  So...let me move on to my point for today.   Nothing personal, of course.

There is a story in the gospels about Jesus preaching in his hometown.  It goes like this:

"Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.  But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor." And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matthew 13:54-58).

People get "offended" today at the drop of a hat, at almost anything.  It is to to the point that we have almost created a "culture of offense."  Offending someone is seen as one of the great sins of our time.  People don't typically call it sin (sin is not a word that gets used much today, primarily, I think, because most people don't know what it is...and if they did know, they would reject it as a concept, much less as a reality)...but they do treat it as such. 

I am not in favor of swinging the pendulum way too far the other way and suggesting that we should all start going around and purposefully trying to offend each other.  I have know people who call themselves Christians who say "I don't care if this offends you, I'm saying (or doing) it anyway."  I don't believe that such an attitude fits in well with Paul's words to us that "your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). 

There is a balance that is needed.  Certainly, people should speak (and act out) what they believe the truth to be.  And sometimes...that is going to offend someone...maybe even a lot of someones.  But that is not an excuse to act like a jerk towards people because of what you believe to be true.  Again, Paul tells us that Jesus disciples must learn to "speak the truth in love" so that we can "grow up" and "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (see Ephesians chapter 4).

And although the old cliche that "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" has some truth to it, there is a growing tendency in today's world for people to neither care about how much you know nor care about how much you care if what you say (what you know) and what you do (how you care) still "offends" them.  People never have liked to have their sins pointed out to them, especially if you know them personally.  Just ask Jesus.

So no offense, but...stop being "offended" and grow up.  At some point the sins in all of our lives will be dealt with, so why not begin to deal with them today in the context of a loving, spiritual friendship that can help you overcome the darkness by stepping into the light. 
"There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" (Jesus, in Matthew 10:26).  

Nothing personal, of course.


Q - What if anything keeps you from stepping into the light?  Are you easily offended?  Are you able to call sin for what it is?  Do you want to overcome, or are you just looking for someone to help you feel better about yourself?